Nadine Louise (Mayer) Kelley, 85, died July 13, 2019, at Riderwood Retirement community in Silver Spring, Md., as a result of complications from a fall at Riderwood earlier this year. She was born Sept. 25, 1933, in Sioux City, Iowa, the granddaughter of German and Swedish immigrants.
She began her life in Omaha. When she was 5 years old and her family moved from Nebraska to southern California, most of the extended family on both sides also moved to California. The family lived behind the restaurant they opened to serve the local ranching community. Later, the Mayers settled in Van Nuys. He father built their house in the San Fernando Valley at a time when local officials were urging people to move to the wide-open spaces of “the Valley.” She often spoke of growing up in the small stucco house with her brother, Jack, and younger sister, Elaine.
A highlight of her childhood was one-on-one outings with her grandmother, Clara Johnson, on the streetcar to Hollywood for a toy at Woolworths and lunch at the Brown Derby. Another memory was the all-day Saturday movies, costing a nickel, with her brother and other rambunctious kids watching the newsreel, the B movie and the feature film.
After high school, she trained at a secretarial school in downtown Los Angeles. She and a girlfriend secured federal government jobs and went east by train in February of 1956, impressed with the snow blowing into the train vestibules. She worked at the Department of Atomic Energy in Washington, D.C. She and her roommate often left late for work, so instead of walking from their efficiency at Dupont Circle, they’d share a taxi to hurriedly do their hair and makeup.
Not long after arriving in the D.C. area, Kelley met her future husband, Frederick Thomas “Fred” Kelley at a party in his shared apartment in the same building. Fred Kelley was about to become a Foreign Service officer with the Department of State.
Within a year, they married, moved to Arlington, Va., and had their first child. By 1960, they had two daughters and were living in their first posting of St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. By 1963, they’d had a third daughter in Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and upon returning the United States had a son the following year. Subsequent postings for the family included Islamabad and Singapore. He was assigned solo postings to Laos, East Africa and Ottawa later on in his career.
Kelley enjoyed life in the Foreign Service. She was very active in the diplomatic community and the international schools her children attended. She loved meeting new and interesting people and attending all types of get-togethers that this lifestyle afforded.
In the late 1970s, Kelley decided to attend the University of Maryland. With four kids in or about to enroll in college, she paid her way by working as a secretary at Andrews Air Force Base and earning some credits at the local community college. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1982 and enjoyed every minute of her education.
In the early 1980s and in retirement, the Kelleys began traveling in their VW minibus. They crisscrossed the country, visiting national parks and seeing old friends and relatives on both coasts. By the mid-1990s the Kelleys moved to Bethany Beach, Del., perhaps their favorite posting. They enjoyed their lives among many fellow federal worker retirees, and she continued to be active in the community, with town council meetings, the library book selection group, beach restoration projects, the garden club and the feral cat rescue group, to name a few.
Three years ago, health reasons forced the Kelleys to a retirement community in the Washington area, near most of their children. Fred Kelley passed away in August of 2017. She leaves behind four children, seven grandchildren, a sister, a half-brother, three dozen nieces and nephews, a sister-in-law and many beloved friends in Bethany Beach.
Kelley will be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery, alongside her husband. A memorial is planned in September in Bethany Beach.